Diary

The Introvert Points System

the-introvert-points-system

When I was a little kid, my favorite thing to do was sit in my room and color and draw and write. As an adult, I can’t say much has changed.

My ideal weekend involves sleeping in, hanging out with my husband (also an introvert with anxiety issues), watching movies, writing, blogging, painting, crafting and only talking to people online.

I used to go out with friends every weekend as a college student but that became exhausting pretty quickly. Even then, at my most social, I still would get LOOKS from friends if I said I wanted to stay in on any given Saturday. Even at my most social, I couldn’t keep up.

A lot of people believe social media is related to the social anxiety a lot of people seem to have now. I think people are just being open about it, as they should be. But when most people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are only showing the sides of themselves they want to show in public, feeling less than can come easily and naturally.

As a graphic designer, my day-to-day is pretty routine: I sit at a desk almost all day and make websites, web and print graphics look good. But on the days I have a client meeting, I get a nervous stomach. This is occasionally for clients I’ve met before but always for clients I’m just meeting for the first time.

I take anxiety medication to help battle this nervousness and have for about a year. Sometimes the pills work. Sometimes they don’t. But before I started the pills, things were getting really bad.

There was one meeting in particular where I had to excuse myself for fear I may vomit, have a heart attack or stop breathing. I even started having panic attacks during staff meetings, not even with clients present.

The physical manifestations of anxiety are, I promise you, very real. Everyone I know who has anxiety issues is well aware that the thoughts they have during a panic attack are nonsensical. That’s why telling someone who is having a panic attack to “calm down” or “just be optimistic” is extremely unhelpful.

When I recently mentioned feeling a little lonely and missing friends but not having the energy or will to go hang out with people, one very extroverted friend told me, “Well, it’s your own fault, you know.” Thanks friend.

Anyway. Tangent.

 

My Points System

After a quiet weekend at home, I start my week on a Monday morning with 10 points. A workday without any client meetings takes up, let’s say, 2–3 points. I talk with my co-workers but the routine makes it easy. A client meeting takes up a good 5 points, especially if it runs long or I find them intimidating for some reason. Grocery shopping after work takes up a few more points. When I get home, I’m usually out of points.

I then start Tuesday with 8 or 9 points and Wednesday with 7 or 8 points. As the week progresses, I can feel my points draining.

By the time I get to the weekend, I’m out. I’m done. If I’ve made plans on a Saturday, I have to be very strategic about what I do the evening before and day after so I don’t feeling panicked. When major plans are made the day before an event happens, the feeling of dread I have is considerable.

 

 

When I have used up all my points during the week and then have major plans on the weekend, I’m usually exhausted or need to take frequent alone breaks, just to take some deep breaths. Two examples:

  1. Christmas can get pretty loud at my family’s house because there are quite a few of us and several of us are loud talkers. With different pockets of chatter happening around me, being able to take a break in the guest room was the most pleasant relief.
  2. I hate public speaking, but it’s kind of one of those things you gotta do when you’re doing a book launch. My debut novel came out February 2015 and the following month, I held an event in Charlottetown at the library on a Saturday after doing a full week of my 9–5 work week. Quite a few people were there. We brought snacks and I did a talk and a reading and did a Q&A session. I had to be “on.” I had to be funny and charming and talk about my book in front of people—something that used to make me feel weird and vulnerable. After the event was over, I could not get out of my jeans and into my bed fast enough. I slept like I hadn’t slept in a month. It was wonderful.

The Points System has been helpful for me in understanding my limits and knowing when I need to slow down and also knowing when I should just take a deep breath and… have dinner with friends. Go to an outdoor event with lots of people around.

It doesn’t hurt that I have way too many hobbies and wish I could devote all of my time to them. Writing makes me happy. Painting makes me happy. Crafting makes me happy. Playing The Sims in my pajamas and watching five episodes of The Golden Girls in a row makes me happy.

For those of you who are naturally extroverted or don’t suffer from anxiety, I hope the points system will help you better understand when you want to hang out with a friend and they can’t, even though they don’t seem to have a reason. They probably don’t hate you. They probably just ran out of points and they need to re-generate.

Schedule your shit ahead of time so they can prepare.

 

This post was originally posted by me on Medium in April of 2016.

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Jilly

Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a hoarder of podcasts and a history enthusiast. Learn more.

3 Comments

  1. Patrick
    September 1, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    This sounds like a good system to use, great blog post 👍🏼
    I feel like I’m starting every day lately with 0 points though.
    I get a lot of social anxiety, but my biggest problem is the anxiety that drives my ocd. Think those irrational thoughts you mentioned when having a panic attack, but constantly 😓 I see right through them as well but it doesn’t help them go away. They repeat over and over, day in day out. I have a bad time with the ‘checking’ of things these days. Ocd is really odd, embarrassing, and very very, no, extremely misunderstood. It can differ a lot in severity, can change consistently and for me is so debilitating at this point, it keeps me almost entirely isolated. And I’ve always been super introverted. But I hate being alone… It makes no sense. I even feel bad typing this now, like this feels like I’m writing my own blog post. I just felt I should share. You’ve reminded me I really need to try harder to break these routines more often and just chill out (very often extremely hard to do) I try to play video games to distract myself but it doesn’t always help when I also get ocd habits whilst playing them. It’s terrible.
    Anys; hi btw 😊 I hope you’ve been well. I don’t have a Twitter account anymore atm. Also; cute puppy 😊 We have a (sometimes) cute cat (when she’s sleeping), she’s over a year old now. She keeps me company a lot, also drives me mad, slightly more than a lot. She’s tiny but a damn savage. Also don’t feel you need to publish this comment, I just read it back and it’s pretty damn long. If you ever wanna know anything more about ocd though I could tell you a lot. I’ve had it since childhood. Around 5 or so when I first started primary school. Some coping mechanism… One thing is for sure is it keeps me broke.

    • Jilly
      September 2, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Patrick,
      Good to hear from you. Have you ever thought about starting a blog to write about your anxiety and OCD, as a kind of creative outlet?

  2. Pat
    October 9, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Jill, sorry I only just realised you’d replied. I have thought about that, but haven’t found the motivation to do it. And it might frustrate me more cause I’d expect no one would read it. Or I’ve thought about maybe making videos on YouTube about it, but hmmm 😑 It’s nice of you to suggest that though. I have been pushing through it lately (like maybe 3 days) feels like a long time while it lasts though.. Functioning on less sleep seems to help, I do have a tendency to oversleep, but I get rather manic when I somehow ‘snap out of it’ as such, i.e for me, not constantly checking everything I come in contact with, very hard to ignore, but yeah somehow easier when I’m tired. I’m 32 now and I guess even though this cycle is well, fucked, at least I currently see this pattern. I blame reality for anxiety at this point. Like it’s good having a pet, reminds you that we really are too overly complex and that thinking/worrying isn’t always or at all necessary. I wish on bad days I could just press stop for a while though👌🏼

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